The proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine is supposed to create 350 jobs on the Iron Range for 20 years. After the mine closes, water treatment to protect the environment will be required for 500 years. That is projected to cost up to $6 million a year. That adds up to $3 billion. Any bets on whether those annual cleanup costs will increase over time? Any bets on whether PolyMet, a Canadian company that is one-fourth owned by a Swiss company, will still be around decades after the mine closes, no less for centuries, to shoulder responsibility for the costs?

Here is an alternative: The state funds a special $350 million lottery with 350 winners, who must be residents of northeast Minnesota. Each winner gets $1 million paid out at $50,000 a year for 20 years. For less than 12 percent of the estimated cost to clean up after the mine, we inject $350 million into the economy of northeast Minnesota and eliminate the risk to the environment. How is that for a deal?